Early sports betting results encouraging with larger revenue on the horizon

Former State Sen. Ray Lesniak placed a bet on New Jersey’s first day of legalized sports wagering. His World Cup payout isn’t too shabby, and the gamble he took leading the sports betting court battle looks to have good odds too.

New Jersey’s three sports betting venues took in more than $16 million in legalized bets since it began a few weeks ago. They captured about $3.5 million in gross revenue, that’s wagers minus payouts to winners, according to the State Division of Gaming Enforcement.

“New Jerseyans have always been eager to try new gambling options. It’s also a pretty affluent state as well, so I think the numbers have a chance to match what the optimists are looking at,” said John Brennan, a senior analyst at NJOnlineGambling.com.

Encouraging, but a little too early to draw conclusions, according to Brennan.

“The goal, ultimately, is $100 million in tax revenue. But we just opened the Meadowlands Racetrack sportsbook on Saturday, Freehold is not yet open, most of Atlantic City casinos don’t have sports betting, so it’s very early. I think within a couple of months of football season we’ll see,” Brennan said.

Football season is expected to be the real cash cow. The Meadowlands won’t be able to operate the sports book when the Jets and Giants play on Sundays, so CEO Jeff Gural says he’s working out a deal with the team owners to shuttle fans before and after games. He’s delighted so far by the potential revenue stream.

“Our goal was to do over $1 million for the weekend. I know we were at $560,000 on Saturday and before I went to sleep last night we were at $465,000 or something for Sunday, so I was very pleased,” Gural said.

But the state report shows the lion’s share of sports wagers went to Monmouth Park. Over $8 million in revenue, $2.3 in gross. That revenue is taxable and means the state got $193,000 from the first 17 days.

“This is going to be healthy for New Jersey, healthy for the racetracks and casinos and healthy for a revenue source for New Jersey,” Drazin said.

To put it in perspective, Monmouth Park more than doubled that of the Borgata in Atlantic City, which began sports betting the same day. Both blew the new Ocean Resort out of the water. It brought in just over $192,000 in gross revenue.

Meanwhile the state Division of Gaming Enforcement put New Jersey’s casinos on notice. They have until end of business Monday to submit plans for sports betting, or risk not being approved in time for the start of football season. The warning also goes for internet and mobile sports betting. No casinos in New Jersey approval for that yet. Expect to see a lot of movement in the week ahead.

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